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2643 Potential Brandable Startup Names with .com available

This is part 1 of a series I would like to call, the end of the 'there are no more good domains left' problem.

I heard it once too many times and cracked. I also was stuck on a particularly challenging problem and needed to distract myself for a while to distance myself and gain some perspective. So in the meantime, I came up with a way to generate millions (first run generated 350 million+ domain names, which is about 3.7 times the size of the .com zone file). Too many, to start with at least without ranking them somehow.

Ranking attempts:

  • Using letter frequency and assigning points based on frequency in English language.
  • Using bi/tri-grams and their frequencies from Peter Norvig's data
  • Modifying these techniques to penalize duplicate letters (stuff like was ranking at the top

Ultimately, none of it worked well enough to filter the top, it only removed the crap. So I went smaller (down to 5 letters from 7) and used only certain pronounceable patterns and only put letters that made sense in certain positions/orders.

The other problem is that, I couldn't find any objective way to identify what was or wasn't appealing as a brand name. It depends on a lot of factors such as country, language, region, business area, founders names, etc. There is no ultimate way to rank them (I tried using google search volume for a small sample... gave some very strange results).

I cherry-picked a few for myself for future projects and to give you an idea of what I found here are a few:

So I will present them alphabetically in the full story.

DISCLAIMER: these domains were checked against the zone file, NOT the registry. Some names ARE TAKEN but for whatever reason did not have name servers when the zone file was downloaded. Possible causes: somewhere in the delete cycle or simply no name servers registered.

Creativity and Kids

One thing I constantly find amazing is the solutions kids come up with for technology problems they encounter. The tools they pick can often seem baffling to those of us who are steeped in tech knowledge. They don't seem to limit their thinking to picking the exact tool designed for the problem at hand. They often pick tools which seem terribly suited for the problem but make it work.

What brought about this blog post? A quiz game created in powerpoint with a full score tracking system. How? Hardcoded with links on various pages (think a giant list of goto statements or a create your own story book).

Some people might think it's just ignorant behavior, others might call it innovation. I think those of us very comfortable and familiar with technology, programmers especially, easily dismiss options which see ill suited or don't even recognize them as options at all.

How does this tie into entrepreneurship? I often realize I have these blinders on when watching kids (and sometimes adults) get things done using various programs/apps. Do I really understand the problem people are trying to solve and the way they think about solving the problem? Most of the time, no, I haven't a clue is what I've realized.

Do Domainers Block Innovation in the Domain Name Space?

This train of thought occurred to me while having lunch with another domainer and discussing a company that approached me about entering the domain space.

This new company was trying to innovate a way to sell more domain names. We discussed the idea, it wasn't novel in concept, but still hasn't been executed successfully. (Note: I am being vague and speaking in theory because I have no idea if the company has launched or if I am allowed to speak directly about them as I was approached privately)

I expressed my doubts about success and listed the reasons. The primary reasons were a lack of credibility and lack of their own portfolio.

Let's investigate those assumptions:

Lack of Credibility

Domainers are a pretty small group of people and it seems you're only ever 2 degrees away from virtually anyone in the business (a mutual acquaintance). Everyone knows everyone loosely. Reputations often precede any interaction. We are a fairly xenophobic bunch, don't trust people from the outside and have this view that everyone would like to take advantage of us, given the chance.

If you just look at the language used when talking about ICANN, Google/Yahoo PPC accounts, parking companies, there is this inherent mistrust that our interests aren't being looked after. I won't debate whether it's legitimate or not, but getting a positive reputation (credibility) is a difficult task in this business. The fastest route seems to be big sales or at least the claims of such.

Not Having Your Own Portfolio
This ties into lacking credibility, having good domain names and big sales generates credibility and trust. So if you don't have anything notable in your portfolio or didn't sell something that made headlines, it's infinitely more difficult to launch any domain related innovation. Who is going to signup and test you out? Not me, not other domainers. We are generally risk averse with our domain names (think the absurdly high reserves we see at auctions time and time again).

One of the biggest successes in recent years has been Rick Latona's mailing list. Who absorbed that initial risk and attracted buyers by offering good deals? He did. He sold his own domain names to attract people before anyone else would list with him. Once the sales were happening, I think he probably had more people interested than he could handle. What made it possible? He owns his own domain portfolio.

Innovating in the Domain Space
If we return to our original question/problem: do domainers block innovation in the domain space?

I think the answer has to be an unequivocal yes. I think we harm our own interests by being so risk averse and have created unconscious barriers to entry which prevent many people who might have entered from entering.

So what? Why does that matter?
The result of this system is that innovation is endogenous in the domain industry. Only domain industry players can successfully 'innovate.' Who has the credibility and funds to launch new domain innovations? A very select few that meet our basic criteria.

If you've been around the domain space for a long time, you may feel like I do (yes, I am getting personal now and it's anecdotal), there isn't much going on in the space. I often wondered why, but only now have I had the time to sit down and think about it. I am still using the same tools I wrote 8 years ago and they are still really effective. Perhaps that's a testament to my awesome skills or more likely, there hasn't really been any major waves in the business in a long time.

Don't you have a solution?
I don't think there is a clearcut solution for this problem. It's a systemic issue. Most successful innovations in the domain space are scalable and take advantage of economies of scale. Domainers will bandwagon any success and companies are generally rewarded by this bandwagoning. Thus, whomever takes the initial risk isn't disproportionately rewarded, therefore, let someone else do it is the consensus.

If we really want to see innovation flourish within the domain ecosystem was need to take more risks, try more new services and encourage outsiders to enter the space. SO next time a company approaches you, make an extra effort to help them. Also don't dismiss their chances because they don't have any credibility or their own domains to absorb the risk with. Maybe even lend them a domain or two!

ccTLDs of Politically Unstable Countries, Example: .ly and Libya Sanctions

I just read that Libyan Spider, a reseller for .ly has been suspended by it's hosting company for violating US/UN sanctions. This is posted on the front of their website:

March, 31. 2011

Dear LS clients,

Our servers have been shut down by

We are currently trying to resolve this issue. They believe we fall under the blocked list of the UN/US sanctions.
We are a private company run by ordinary citizens that have no affiliation with the government. We are currently trying to
resolve this issue as soon as possible. This is out of our hands until can reactivate our servers. Please contact
them too to show them that you too are affected by this shutdown. We really are sorry that this error of judgement has occurred.
It is a complete injustice to us. They shut us down without even checking to see if we fell under that category. We will release a statement shortly.

Please email us at
We hope that this issue will be resolved soon.

Best regards,
Hadi Naser
CEO Libyan Spider, LLC.

So the interesting question becomes, what sort of extensions really are sensible for a company to use? Can you imagine that you're violating a UN sanction for buying your domain name from a country that is attacking it's own people?

This registry in particular has a history of questionable practices which have brought up the concern about what extension/registry/country you use for your domain name. Is this just another concern nobody conceived of until it happened?

It seems to me, sticking with the popular gTLDs (com/net/org, hell, I will even throw in info/biz for stability) is an even safer bet these days. Is that better sounding name from a foreign country really worth it?

To finish this the only way I can see appropriate, a little domain humor.

Beeth> Girls are like internet domain names, the ones I like are already taken.
honx> well, you can stil get one from a strange country :-P


Stupid Data Mining Tricks: Overfitting the S&P 500

Posted in

I found this PDF about overfitting the S&P 500 pretty amusing. Creating a model to fit S&P 500 using Bangladeshi sheep. It's a fun anecdotal story but the ending really hits home. 95% confidence in the model means 1/20 models are bogus. That's a lot of junk models and it's somewhat scary to think that these statistical models are being used a lot for very important things.

Open Sourcing Domain Name News Aggregator

If 500 people subscribe to the DomainToad newsletter by April 1, 2011.

Oh look, a catch! Shocking!

Why would I do that? Because I spent a fair amount of time and some money to create the website and I would like to see that people at least try it. Releasing the code publicly will also take some more of my time to clean it up a bit and package it. If nobody cares enough or finds it useful enough to use, then I won't bother spending my time to release it to everyone for free.

I've released a lot of software I've written over the years for free or provided access to them publicly for free. Most probably never got used by anyone but me, if people are genuinely interested in having a copy of the code I wrote for Domain Toad they will subscribe for the newsletter and get their friends to subscribe as well. It's free and provides headlines from major domain blogs in your email daily. Other websites charge for that 'luxury.'

If the newsletter gets 500 subscribers before April 1, 2011 I will release the code with the open source MIT license. How will people be notified? I will post on my blog and email the newsletter subscribers a notice if it has 500 subscribers by April 1, 2011.

If someone is really that desperate to buy it, I will sell copies for $250 as is with 1 hour of support to get started with a non-exclusive license to use/modify it but not distribute unless it becomes open source. Contact me.

My Internal SEO Checklist

I compiled a list of everything I know of that you can do internally (on your own webpage) to improve your SEO and rankings. I have broken it down into categories: header, content, navigation, graphic/image, and other. The header stuff is inside <head> tag. Content is about your actual text content. Navigation is structural/linking. Graphic/Image is about <IMG> and when to use it. Other is everything else.

This checklist does not tell you exactly how to resolve your specific seo issues. It is designed as a reminder about all the things you can do to try and improve your rankings.

Feel free to add anything you feel is missing for internal SEO and I would be happy to add it.

Header Related

  • Title Tags – Proper <title> tags with relevant keyword on each page.
  • Meta Description – Describe content of the page briefly (155 chars according to seomoz).

Network Solutions Certified Offer Service: Does it Favor Buyers?

I had my first sale through Network Solutions Certified Offer service a few
months ago. I was a little bit surprised to see someone paying upfront to
have an automated service email my whois address. However, it made me
curious. I had to understand how the system works and if I wanted to respond.

The Structure of the Certified Offer System

There are a maximum of four steps in the process:

  1. Initial Offer (Buyer)
  2. Accept/Decline/Counter Offer (Seller)
  3. Accept/Decline/Counter Offer (Buyer)
  4. Accept/Decline (Seller)

The first thing to recognize is that it is a structured negotiation system.
You are given a limited set of choices and the amount of negotiation is also

Game Theory Analysis

Let's run through a sample negotiation to see how one would expect these
negotiations to play out.

Starting Situation:
Seller = Owner of the domain name, he or she gets contacted by Certified
Buyer = Party interested in purchasing the domain name from Seller

Pb = Maximum price Buyer is willing to pay for domain name
Ps = Minimum price Seller is willing to accept for domain name

Step 1.
Seller makes initial offer (O1).
O1 is either greater than Ps or less than Ps.

At this point Ps may not actually be determined. Some Sellers may have a firm
minimum price already in mind, but many probably do not. This is where what
is known as 'price anchoring' comes into play.

Price Anchoring is a fairly well studied phenomenon and the results may surprise
you as a negotiator.

I might have been wrong about Facebook referring to porn

Posted in

But it seems they are soon to be the largest escort recruitment site on the web!

It's a fascinating read about the sex trade industry in New York City. How the internet has self-empowered prostitutes.

Thought Experiment: Google exposed a vulnerability in Bing's search ranking feature, could it be exploited?

Everyone in the tech world has heard about the latest spat between Google and Bing (Microsoft).
Matt Cutts has talked a lot about it.

The core issue is Bing is using clickstream data from either IE (Suggested Sites) and/or their
Bing Toolbar. They clearly are OK copying Google's results if users click them.

If I throw on my blackhat thinking cap, we can begin the thought experiment.

Big Questions:

  1. How does clickstream work: is it only looking at URLs or analyzing actual content?
  2. Does it only work for Google searches?

How does clickstream work: is it only looking at URLs or analyzing actual content?

This is an important distinction if we are looking to manipulate results for our benefit.

If Bing only looks at the stream of URLs, in theory, you might be able to inject any URL into there.
It may not have to show up on that Google search result at all. If that worked on long-tail, it
may also help with more competitive keywords, fooling Bing into thinking it was getting more clicks
on Google and sending a positive ranking signal.

If they are double checking content, this type of manipulation may not work when it tries to 'steal'
the information from the Google search result. Someone would have to test this to find out.

Does it only work for Google searches?

Clearly, they've decided Google is a valid source, but what else is? Could artificially creating
traffic patterns from important and/or relevant sites increase search rankings? This still depends
on how they gather data, whether it's only looking at the clickstream or actually analyzing content.


If I were doing some SEO for a super competitive niche, I might be exploring how could this type of
signal be adjusted for my own benefit. Google could manipulate it, why couldn't you?

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